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Book Review: Running the Books by Avi Steinberg

, by Mystee




Book Description

 October 19, 2010
Avi Steinberg is stumped. After defecting from yeshiva to Harvard, he has only a senior thesis essay on Bugs Bunny to show for his effort. While his friends and classmates advance in the world, he remains stuck at a crossroads, unable to meet the lofty expectations of his Orthodox Jewish upbringing. And his romantic existence as a freelance obituary writer just isn’t cutting it. Seeking direction—and dental insurance—Steinberg takes a job as a librarian in a tough Boston prison.

The prison library counter, his new post, attracts con men, minor prophets, ghosts, and an assortment of quirky regulars searching for the perfect book and a connection to the outside world. There’s an anxious pimp who solicits Steinberg’s help in writing a memoir. A passionate gangster who dreams of hosting a cooking show titled Thug Sizzle. A disgruntled officer who instigates a major feud over a Post-it note. A doomed ex-stripper who asks Steinberg to orchestrate a reunion with her estranged son, himself an inmate. Over time, Steinberg is drawn into the accidental community of outcasts that has formed among his bookshelves — a drama he recounts with heartbreak and humor. But when the struggles of the prison library — between life and death, love and loyalty — become personal, Steinberg is forced to take sides.

Running the Books is a trenchant exploration of prison culture and an entertaining tale of one young man’s earnest attempt to find his place in the world while trying not to get fired in the process

Product Details

  • File Size: 549 KB
  • Print Length: 418 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0385529090
  • Publisher: Anchor (October 19, 2010)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003F3PM0C

Rating: 4/5

Review: I'm not even sure how I would describe this book. It makes you think of jobs that I suppose we know exist we just rarely think of them.

Avi is a prison librarian. I guess I just always thought that other prisoners got their twenty cents a day or hour or whatever it is to be a librarian.

He does a remarkable job describing his daily routine and the prisoners he comes in contact day after day in his job.  He also lets the reader in on what happens when some of these prisoners are released to the outside.

A wonderful picture is painted, memoir type to an extent, almost story telling to another.  This is a great weekend read into something most of us rarely think about. Brilliantly written. 




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